(Greg Pak / Robert Gill / Guy Major / Dave Sharpe; Valiant Comics)
The last time I reviewed Greg Pak's Eternal Warrior for Comics Bulletin, I ended the review saying, “I get the sense that Greg Pak is sitting back somewhere in his writing space, cracking his knuckles, smiling a knowing smile, and preparing to let loose a serious awesome bomb.”
With issue five, he detonates it. Seriously.
Once again, Valiant is touting an “All-New Arc” as an “All-New Jumping-On Point!” and they couldn't have been more right in this case. You don't need to know nothing about who or what the Eternal Warrior is to fall face first into this story.
See, I have a hard time even remembering what I had for breakfast this morning (and it's only 10:38 AM, mind you). Pak sets this story TWO THOUSAND YEARS into the future, so anything that has gone on before seems pretty moot. In this distant Earth, thanks to the trifecta of science, technology, and war, the Eternal Warrior now finds himself Emperor of a small agrarian society and bemoaning the loss of electricity, coffee, and Advil. When a mechanical behemoth comes out of the horizon and starts stomping people dead, he also realizes that he misses the destructive ease of guns.
Taking down this killing machine sets off the rest of the story line. Remember that “awesome bomb” I mentioned at the beginning of this review? When it blows, the Eternal Warrior sets off on a path that is going to tear a hole in the whole Valiant Universe (or so the Valiant PR hype folk promise).
While Pak has his ease of dialogue, characterization, and pacing down to a science, what really pops this issue are the pages themselves. Robert Gill's got a sketchy style that lends itself to conveying action fluidly, full of meat and muscle, while also giving the viewer just enough hints of emotional import to convey a complexity to all the interactions. Gill understands panic and confusion as much as he does resolve and love. Gestures are enough in his pages to resonate.
As a colorist, Guy Major makes some major contributions to capturing mood and setting, playing off of the words and pictures to complete each panel's intent. Also, Dave Sharpe shows what a talented letterer can bring to the impact of not only a singular moment, but a book in its entirety.
There's an explosion on the twelfth page of Eternal Warrior #5 that demonstrates how the entire art team coheres to bring about something spectacular. Gill's pencils capture the lateral movement of the boom (with an added none too subtle death head screaming motif); Major's use of all the shades of yellow convey the heat and the light and the power. Then there's Sharpe's “KRRRAAAAKKKKOOOMMM” in jagged red piercing our eardrums aloud.
It's comic art done right – working harmoniously -- bringing the reader into the experience as viscerally as possible.
Pak, Bernard, Major, and Sharpe have got it going on with Eternal Warrior #5. They are blowing it up real good, my friends. Real good.